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new here. intense sciatic pain.

kelleygirlkkelleygirl Posts: 8
Hello. I just really am looking for a place to get some support and understanding. My family is pretty tired of the breakdowns. About 4 weeks ago, I noticed pain in my left leg. It progressively got worse during the day. Occasionally my leg would feel numb or pins an needles. I went home and went straight to bed. It was better the next morning. About a week later, the pain came back. Same thing, dull at first, but progressing, until at the end of the day (after a 25 minute drive home) I was in tears. I called the Dr. the next day. He put me on prednisone and lortab. It got worse. I went back. He put me on voltaren and another script for Lortab. Did an x-ray. It was normal. It's getting worse. I'm scheduled for an MRI this Friday. I depend on the lortab now just to function (which I hate!). I take 1/2 every 2 or 3 hours (whole one would knock me out). And still get breakthrough pain. I told the nurse the pain is worse than child labor. It really is. I had an ectopic rupture about 6 years ago. This pain is approaching being worse than that. I sometimes think I'm going nuts. How can it hurt so bad? Why isn't it getting better? Ok, thanks for letting me vent.


  • Welcome to the website -- this is definitely the place to come to for support and understanding.

    I feel your pain! I've had a rough two days myself. Hopefully, the MRI will reveal what's causing the leg pain -- probably a herniated disk or it could be your sciatic nerve being pinched by the piriformis muscle of the buttocks -- I'm not a doctor -- just an opinion -- reading your post is like reading mine the first time I posted on this website -- have you ever had back issues? I didn't even know I had a herniated disk because all my pain was in my leg. Finally had an X-ray and MRI which indicated a herniation of my l4-l5.

    You might want to try icing your leg and alternating with heat. Also many of the over the counter heat/ice ointments help. I, too, was put on prednisone for the first few weeks trying to get the inflammation under control. When this didn't work, I had three epidural injections (helped somewhat). I'm on tradmadol and lyrica (for nerve pain) and oxycodone for "breakthrough" pain. I understand how miserable you are as you "assaulted" by a pain that has tranformed your normal life. The people at my job definitely think I'm nuts by now -- but when someone hurts their back and comes back to work they look at me like I'm a saint (LOL) because no one can understand the pain until they go through it.

    Try to relax - take a hot shower or warm bath -- put some comforting ointment on you leg -- try elevating it on the bed -- that helped me -- whatever position I could get in to make it feel beter -- right now I'm sitting in bed on a heating pad and have a thermacare wrap around the back of my knee (SO SEXY -- NOT!!). Drink a lot of liquids while you're taking all those meds - hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

    Although you can't think it right now -- you will eventually get to the bottom of what's wrong and get some relief -- just be kind to yourself while you're hurting and let other people help you out -- not your fault you're hurting.

    And most of all, you'll develop patience dealing with the docs -- or, you'll lose your mind -- also, I've made many trips to the ER due to pain and the most they will do is give you a pain shot or more steroids (again just my experience, yours may be different).

    Looking forward to hearing you get some relief soon. Take care.
  • Welcome to the board. Sorry for the reason you found us.

    I think most of us on the board would agree with your description of sciatic pain, and, as you will see as you read through older threads, many of us have had it for months and even years.

    I am glad you will be having a MRI. An X-ray does not show soft tissue or problems like herniated disks, etc.

    You will want to do some reading on sciatica so that you can begin to educate yourself so you can ask good questions of your medical professionals. If the MRI reveals something, you may want to consult with a spinal specialist. Spine problems are too complex to be left to a family doc or PCP-type doc. You will want to find a specialist, either an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the back and spine, or a neurosurgeon. Just because the name of their specialty includes the word "surgeon" do not be afraid to go to one. They will always recommend conservative treatments first, before suggesting the need for surgery.

    While you are in so much pain, here are a few tips. Avoid any activities that involve bending, twisting or reaching with your arms. Avoid lifting anything heavier than about a gallon of milk until you know what is going on. Drink plenty of water and resist the temptation to crawl into bed and stay there. Gentle walking is good for this condition, even though it often hurts to do it. You can try applying ice to your lower lumbar area for 10 minutes per hour. This will help with any inflammation you may have.

    Feel free to post with your questions, comments or if you just want to vent some more! Good luck to you finding a diagnosis for your pain.

    xx Gwennie
  • Thanks so much for the reply! My father has "congenital" spinal stenosis and I wonder if this may be the case for me. It really is inconvenient for me as I have a full time job and a 2 year old to tend to. I really hate the side effects of the narcotics. I can't be a proper mama or do my job well in a haze. Did you ever feel like people didn't believe you? I really get the impression that my gp (and my hubby) thinks I'm exaggerating about the pain.
  • I appreciate the tips. I got the impression from the nurse ( she said the x-ray was normal) that it was good news. But I'm finding out that a "normal" x-ray is really NO news to a patient with sciatic pain. I'm trying to limit my activities, but my precious little boy has a hard time understanding why mama can't carry him downstairs. That is really the absolute worst part. Not being able to take care of my baby.
  • I was going to mention stenosis to you, because you stated it was not too bad upon waking, but got steadily worse through the day. This sounds like stenosis rather than a disk problem to me. Regardless since your pain originates in your lower lumbar spine, that is where you should try icing. You may find some comfort from icing your sore leg, but that pain is referred from you spine. You may also find some comfort from using a heating pad. I find it more comfortable. It helps with any muscles cramps or spasms, brings blood to the area, etc.

    This thread deals with family members not understanding the pain we're in. You might find it interesting:


    And this thread has some good tips on how to deal with a young child or baby when you should not pick him up:

    Well, I've hunted and hunted and cannot find it right now. I'll post it when I run across it again. My point was going to be that there are several moms with young children on the board now who are in your situation or who have had surgery recently.

    It is very unfortunate when our friends and family do not understand...but, really. How could they unless they have gone through it, too? Nothing is quite as intense as back pain or sciatic pain. And it's even worse if you have surgery. People assume you'll have the surgery, be back on your feet in a couple weeks and will be good as new. They just have no idea what we go through and how long it takes to "recover."
  • I am also new to the site and have quite a bit of Sciatic pain. It started for me almost a year ago, later to find out from a bulging disc in the lumbar area. I find mine is better in the morning and gets worse throughout the day, by the end of the day I can barely stand since I work in an occupation that requires quite a bit of standing/walking.

    Ice helps me as well as epsom salt baths. I also have to stretch my glutes and hamstrings daily or I pay for it. Also find that is helps if I rest my back for 10-15 minutes in between housecleaning, or anything that seems to aggravate it. Helps calm it a little before it gets too escalated. However, as this site does state, if I go too long without activity it actually does hurt more.

    Unfortunately that is all the advice I can give since nothing has stopped my daily pain. I do sympathize with you though and will keep you posted on anything else I find.
  • I am sorry to hear about your pain. My first bout of sciatica was 16 years ago when conservative treatment managed to control a herniated disc. However, since last September when I started to have back pain constantly, I flew home from a vacation and could hardly walk off the airplane. Since October, I have constant leg/low back/hip pain which has left me wondering if this will ever go away.

    I had an MRI, Bone Scan, XRay which showed spinal stenosis, arthritis, herniated dic and bulging disc, hip bursitis and degenerative disc disease. At this time, I am on a waiting list to see a surgeon. I live in Canada and cannot just call and make an appt with a surgeon. I am hoping to get this appt. soon.

    I agree with the others who have replied. I am not a doctor or in the medical profession but I find that heat pad, ice packs, meds and lots of water and juices are good. I limit my activities and do the best I can. Good luck, listen to your body and talk to your doctor until you feel that you are being heard.

    Marg :)
  • I use a platinum infrared heating pad and it helps so much as it penetrates deep 2-1/2 inches into your muscles instead of a heating pad. It's best to use moist heat as it penetrates moreso than a regular heating pad which if left on can burn your skin. When I was first had the pain I got a lumber support belt and found it helped with the chores and walking at first but they're not recommended for long term as you need to strengthen the core muscles later. Your Dr will start some nerve pain meds but it's always about trying different meds to see what works for you. You'll know more with the MRI results and then referrals to Neuro or OrthoSurgeons. Of course these methods should always be mentioned to your Dr as none of us are Drs here. We're here for you if you ever need support with chat or in the forums. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hi Kelley,

    I can empathize with the amount of pain that you are having. I hope that the MRI will give your doctor and you a better understanding and a plan to manage your pain.

    Most of the time, you can get the pain under control with meds and begin physical therapy that can give you good relief and strength your core muscles to prevent future injuries and irritation of the sciatic nerve. If you get into physical therapy, make sure you do those exercises religiously. I believe from my experience and research that once you have a bad episode of back problem, you will have to deal with it for the rest of your life. I just want to strongly advise you to strength core.

    Last year, I did 4 months of physical therapy and it got my sciatic pain under control. However, no one, even not my physical therapist and pain doctor, warn me about avoiding exercises that involved bending and twisting and lifting heavy objects while I was in recovery. The sciatic pain returned.

    I hope and believe that most people can avoid surgery.

    Good luck!
  • A few things.

    Be careful reading too much on this forum. Logic dictates 99% of the people on a pain forum have not fully recovered. The people who have completely recovered probably never return here.

    Sciatica is 100 times worse than child bearing. Why? Because when you're pregnant, everyone knows it. Don't lift this. Don't do that. You're pregnant! But sciatica is invisible. People who haven't felt it wont have sympathy for you so don't get mad at them.

    Your sciatica came on pretty sudden. Since you're lugging a baby around, I'm guessing you probably weakened a disk and buldged it (probably L4/L5). You'll see in the MRI.

    You're 4 weeks into this. For me the 4 week point was the absolute worst. Pain like I've never felt. Much self loathing :(

    I'm 8 weeks now. I have a flareup maybe once every 3-4 days. Mornings are much better. I'm taking 1 200mg motrin about every 3 hours cause I really don't like to hurt. 4 weeks ago I was living on motrin and hydrocodone and was truly suffering. Now the pain is just inconvenient.
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